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Interview with Heloísa Ferreira, translator - Behind The Curtains

Heloísa Ferreira, translator
Heloísa Ferreira, translator

Heloísa Ferreira

  • Veterinarian, Federal University of Paraná’s (UFPR)

  • Master in Veterinary Science, Federal University of Paraná’s (UFPR)

  • Translator ENG-POR e SPA-POR, 16 years of experience

Areas: medicine, education, and marketing


Please, talk a bit about your background before you become a translator (your training and previous work experiences).

I completed the full English course at CCAA, from 10 to 18 years old. At that time, I was accepted at the Federal University of Paraná’s (UFPR) School of Veterinary, in Curitiba. During the first three years of university, I taught English at CCAA. My mandatory internship was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, and one day a professor at UFPR asked me to help with the research abstracts she was going to present at a congress.

It went so well that she started to refer me to other professors and graduate students. My internship advisor at Wisconsin came to Brazil and I served as a translator/interpreter for them. I also completed my Master's degree at UFPR, and was about to spend a season in Antarctica, developing a research project that was going to lead me to my Ph.D., when I met my husband (and then my life changed radically!).

He introduced me to some friends who placed me as an English teacher in a private school in São Paulo, where I lived for a few years before returning to Curitiba. This was what opened the doors for me to become a translator.

What happened that you became a translator?

My background as an English teacher and Veterinarian led me to work in a pharmaceutical consulting company in São Paulo, where I spent two years translating the entire regulatory part of the clinical trials of large pharmaceutical companies. My job was to translate piles and piles of paper, without CAT tools or anything similar. I learned a lot in those two years, and I ended up very well prepared to face the market.

How did this background help you with translation?

My veterinary training and the experience in regulatory affairs prepared me to face the medical translation market. At the same time, I began to join translators groups on the Internet, first in the Yahoo list and then in Orkut. In these groups I met many colleagues who helped me a lot and I made myself stand out among them, always participating in the discussions and making myself known. One day a journalist from a famous publishing house called me to translate an encyclopedia of countries, which was sold at newspaper stands in CD-ROM, all for having noticed my interaction in translation groups.

What is your personal assessment of the area?

When I started, I was very lucky. I fully embraced the profession, the doors opened to me much more easily than to other colleagues, for sure. I attended some courses too, like subtitling courses, to improve my experience in the area.

I have been doing this for 16 years, and fortunately I can support myself with translation alone. I’ve had fixed clients for several years, but I never stop sending resumes because the current market is very unstable.

What is the level of satisfaction that working in translation brings to you?

I love translating. I can say that translation fulfills me. When it's a subject that interests me, well... it's better than going to the movies or reading a book.

I don't pay attention to the time when I'm translating, I don't see it as a job, a burden. It's something I do willingly, happily, and I'm paid for do it. Nothing better than doing what you like, working at home, on my schedule, relaxed. Nothing is worth more than this.


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